10 Design magazines everyone should read

by Grace Wang in September 2016
Art & design

The London Design Festival kicks off on Monday next week (17 September) so we’re taking the chance to showcase the very best of design in independent publishing. From pages that flow like a chain of thought, to discussions on replica furniture, minimalism, and advice on how to overcome creative blocks, we present 10 of our favourite design magazines.

1. Real Review (London)
Adding an extra fold to Real Review rethinks the structure of this magazine about architecture and critical thought. We love the decision to print on cheap, glossy paper, elevating it with smart design and accessible, engaging writing.

2. IdN magazine (Hong Kong)
Every page of IdN (International Designers’ Network) is crammed with design inspiration. Issues also come with links and passwords so readers can unlock digital design work, presenting an all-encompassing, global multimedia view of design and showcasing the finest work being done right now.

3. Dirty Furniture magazine (London)
Themed around a different piece of furniture for each issue (Couch for #1, Table for #2 and Toilet for the upcoming #3) Dirty furniture magazine offers a truly fascinating take on interior design. From the cultural impact of TV dinners to the tables used by powerful people (think the roundtable at the UN) watch our review of issue two below.

Their Summer 16 issue discusses why poo-bum jokes are funny, laments the loss of the public loo, investigates sanitation in India, unrolls toilet paper, and interviews a paleoscatologist.

4. Harvard Design Magazine (Cambridge, MA)
Born out of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, this long-running publication investigates design through a different topic each issue. We reviewed the Family Planning instalment (below) and the latest issue, ‘Run for Cover!’, explores how fear — of assault, power and the other — shapes our physical world. A thought-provoking read that uses the lens of design to look at everyday life.

5. Disegno (London)
Text leads the way for British design magazine Disegno, which was redesigned earlier this year in collaboration with AKFB Studio. This is a great example of a print magazine fitting in alongside a well-read website, with the quarterly magazine offering a slower addition to the daily updates online.

6. Fiera magazine (London)
Fiera magazine travels to the world’s design fairs on a mission to uncover the best new talent and understand where the industry is going next. Issue four visits projects exhibited at IMM Cologne, Maison&Object, DesignMarch and Milan design week, and explores themes like sustainable furniture material, gender balance in the history of Italian designers, and the impact of replica furniture sales becoming illegal in the UK.

7. Modern Design Review (London)
A design magazine that sets out to do things differently, Modern Design Review is a wonderful read. When we spoke to editor Laura Houseley, she told us how she wanted to move away from the design magazine as a tool for helping people to buy stuff, and towards a focus on design as a creative discipline. For this year’s Design Festival they’ve collaborated with the Ace Hotel to create a collection of new objects that will be in place throughout the hotel.

8. Works that Work (The Hague)
Fascinated by human ingenuity, Works That Work shines a light on people who use their creativity to solve problems. In their seventh issue they probe beyond the visible aspect of design to examine the invisible principles and systems that shape the world around us, for example reporting from Rwanda, one of the first countries to ban plastic bags, showing how ‘design’ can apply to all aspects of modern life.

9. Eye magazine (London)
A collectable graphic design journal, this quarterly print magazine is made for professional designers, students and anyone interested in critical writing about design and visual culture. Always excellent, this informed, assured title offers a fascinating survey of the design world.

10. A New Type of Imprint (Oslo)
Published by award-winning design agency Anti, A New Type of Imprint celebrates the creative community currently working in Norway, and also focuses on Norwegians working overseas. See the video below for a screen-based flick through volume eight.

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